Oklahoma Natural Gas workers investigated a leak for about an hour before explosion

The explosion in Oklahoma City that happened as a result of a natural gas leak on Jan. 3 is still under investigation.
BY VALLERY BROWN vbrown@opubco.com Modified: January 11, 2013 at 11:15 pm •  Published: January 12, 2013

Oklahoma Natural Gas workers were investigating a leak for about an hour on Jan. 3 before a massive explosion destroyed a home with a blast heard for miles.

Two workers looking for a leak in a medium-pressure line feeding residences near SW 92 and S Villa were right outside the home before it exploded, and witnesses said the force blew them away from where they'd been working.

Right after the blast, the workers ran around the home that was then on fire, pulling its owner, Kate Purcell, 61, from the rear of the house.

“That they weren't hurt is remarkable,” neighbor James Bowman said.

Cherokee Ballard, spokesman for ONG, said workers received a call about a gas leak about 3:20 p.m. that day and arrived before 4 p.m. The explosion happened shortly before 5 p.m. Asked why the homes in the area weren't evacuated while ONG workers were looking for the leak, she said that was under investigation.

An Oklahoma City Fire Department official said telecommunications contractors working in the area cut the line.

Bowman said the contractors were boring holes near his neighbor's home for the better part of the day. He noticed the smell of gas shortly after 3 p.m. but saw ONG workers were outside when he left for a hair appointment about 4 p.m.

“There was a strong odor of natural gas, but I wasn't concerned because they were here,” Bowman said.

While he was getting his hair cut about a mile away, he heard a loud boom.

“I had a good idea what it was right away,” he said.

While Bowman was gone, his daughter remained in the home. She rushed out to see how the workers were.

Shortly after, the workers rushed around the back of the house to pull out Purcell.

Deputy Fire Chief Marc Woodard said the sight was unlike any he's responded to.

“I've worked for the department for 28 years, and this is the first one that I've seen completely destroy a home like that,” he said.

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